EDITOR’S NOTE: Exactly fifty years ago, Governor of Eastern Region, Lt. Col. Odemegwu Ojukwu, son of billionaire business man Sir Louis Ojukwu, declared the Republic of Biafra.
What followed amounted to genocide as Nigerian forces, under the leadership of Gen. Yakubu Gowon fought for thirty months to reunite Nigeria. Reports of massacres and rapes continued as the invading army pushed their objective till Biafra fell with the surrender of Gen. Philip Effiong, whom Ojukwu had handed over to before fleeing out of Biafra, to the Federal troops on January 15, 1970.
Below is the reproduced speech of Lt. Col., and later Gen., Odemegwu Ojukwu.
Fellow countrymen and women, you, the people of Eastern Nigeria:
Conscious of the supreme authority of Almighty God over all mankind, of your duty to yourselves and posterity;
Aware that you can no longer be protected in your lives and in your property by any Government based outside Eastern Nigeria;
Believing that you are born free and have certain inalienable rights which can best be preserved by yourselves;
Unwilling to be unfree partners in any association of a political or economical nature;
Rejecting the authority of any person or persons other than the Military Government of Eastern Nigeria to make any imposition of whatever kind or nature upon you;
Determined to dissolve all political and other ties between you and the former Federal Republic of Nigeria;
Prepared to enter into such association, treaty or alliance with any sovereign state within the former Federal Republic of Nigeria and elsewhere on such terms and conditions as best to subserve your common good;
Affirming your trust and confidence in me;
Having mandated me to proclaim on your behalf, and in your name, that Eastern Nigeria be a sovereign independent Republic,
Now, therefore, I, Lieutenant-Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, by virtue of the authority, and pursuant to the principles, recited above, do hereby solemnly proclaim that the territory and region known as and called Eastern Nigeria together with her continental shelf and territorial waters shall henceforth be an independent sovereign state of the name and title of “The Republic of Biafra”. And I do declare that-
all political ties between us and the Federal Republic of Nigeria are hereby totally dissolved;
all subsisting contractual obligations entered into by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or by any person, authority or organization or government acting on its behalf, with any person, authority or organization operating, or relating to any matter or thing, within the Republic of Biafra, shall henceforth be deemed to be entered into with the Military Governor of the Republic of Biafra for and on behalf of the Government and people of the republic of Biafra, and the covenants thereof shall, subject to this Declaration, be performed by the parties according to their tenor;
iii. all subsisting international treaties and obligations made on behalf of eastern Nigeria by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, shall be honored and respected;
Eastern Nigeria’s due share of all subsisting international debits and obligations entered into by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on behalf of the Federation of Nigeria shall be honored and respected;
steps will be taken to open discussions of the question of Eastern Nigeria’s due share of the assets of the Federation of Nigeria and personal properties of the citizens of Biafra throughout the Federation of Nigeria;
the rights, privileges, pensions, etc. of all personnel of the Public Services, the Armed Forces and the Police now serving in any capacity within the Republic of Biafra, are hereby guaranteed;
vii. we shall keep the door open for association with, and would welcome, any sovereign unit or units in the former Federation of Nigeria or in any other parts of Africa desirous of association with us for the purposes of running a common services organization and for the establishment of economic ties;
viii. we shall protect the lives and property of all foreigners residing in Biafra; we shall extend the hand of friendship to those nations who respect our sovereignty, and shall repel any interference in our internal affairs;
we shall faithfully adhere to the charter of the Organization of African Unity and of the United Nations Organization;
It is our intention to remain a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations in our right as a sovereign, independent nation.
Long live the Republic of Biafra! And may God protect all who live in her!
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